The climb to the top of the Mountain West Conference just got steeper for the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Fresno State entered this season’s Mountain West Tournament on its usual May hot streak after winning four games of the regular season at Beiden Field – where it plays tournament host to the five other schools in the conference.
Part of that momentum-builder heading into the conference tournament included a series sweep over Nevada, the No. 5-seed.
The tables turned on Wednesday night, the opening day of the double-elimination tournament.
Fresno State grinded out 12 innings with the Wolf Pack, but fell short 4-3 – and must now win six-straight in order to capture the conference crown and its automatic qualifying bid to an NCAA Regional.
Jamison Rowe hit a solo home run to left in the top of the 12th to give Nevada the win.
Wolf Pack ace Braden Shipley took the mound Wednesday night, striking out eight and giving up seven hits in eight innings of work.
“We came out and wanted to take his fastball away, we did and made him go to his breaking ball and throw a lot of pitches,” Fresno State coach Mike Batesole said. “That’s about as good as you are going to do with him. We had a couple chances more to get him. We had a guy at third twice with less than two outs and didn’t get either home. Those were really the biggest at-bats of the game.”
The Bulldogs and the Wolf Pack exchanged three-run first innings – and neither team was able to get an offensive spark going, which forced the game into extra innings.
Nevada, which outhit Fresno State 13-8, sealed the deal in the 12th inning.
No. 4 Fresno State (21-32) will play Air Force Thursday morning at 11 a.m., with the loser of the game facing elimination from the tournament.
Fresno State won five of six against the Falcons this season.